Obesity and sleep apnea are connected

A high-fat accumulation in the abdomen can predict the occurrence of sleep apnea, according to a The Germans Trias I Pujol University Hospital carried out a study published in the January issue of the American magazine Obesity. According to the results of the research, simple anthropometric measures would allow more simplified sleep studies (polygraphs), which would save resources.

Find out how else obesity and sleep apnea are connected

Thus, in addition to the existing criteria for performing this test (hypersomnolence, snoring during sleep and evidence of nocturnal apnea reported by the spouses), the authors propose to add the measurement of the diameter of the neck, waist, and hips.

Frequent pathology

Between 60% and 70% of people with OSAS are obese and, according to some research, half of those affected suffer from morbid obesity. Treatment of the disease is multifactorial and includes correction of obesity, suppression of sedative drugs and alcohol. The treatment of choice is the use during sleep of a mask with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In a case of structural abnormalities of the upper airway, which are sometimes associated with the syndrome, a surgical solution may be necessary.

A total of 192 patients participated in the study carried out at the Hospital of Badalona, 152 of whom were men, and 40 were women. All of them showed hypersomnolence, snoring during sleep and evidence of nocturnal apnea reported by the spouses.

All the patients underwent a conventional nocturnal polysomnography, in which they evaluated the quality of the (using electroencephalography, electrooculography, and electromyography), the air flow of breathing, the oxygen saturation in the blood, the snoring, and the thoracic movement and abdominal. According to the number of apneas or hypopneas recorded, and based on clinical criteria, the researchers finally diagnosed OSAS to 124 patients (65%). The remaining 68 considered as simple snorers.

Significant differences

The authors of the study found no significant difference between the body mass index of patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snorers but did find them when comparing the parameters of trunk obesity (i.e., fat accumulation In the abdomen) of the two groups. Both the waist diameter and waist circumference ratio were significantly higher in the case of people diagnosed with OSAS. The diameter of the neck was also larger in patients with OSAS. According to the research, patients with abdominal obesity are three times more likely to suffer from OSAS than the rest.

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Carles Martinez, the first signer of the study, explains that “research results can help to optimize the indications of polysomnography and to develop more efficient diagnostic protocols for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, taking into account that trunk obesity is A predictor of disease.”

Tests and exams

People with obesity hypoventilation syndrome are very overweight. A physical examination may reveal:

  • Lips color blue, hands, and toes (cyanosis).
  • Reddish skin.
  • Signs of right heart failure (cor pulmonale), such as swelling of the legs or feet, difficulty breathing, or feeling tired after a little effort.
  • Showing signs of excessive drowsiness.

Watch a video about obesity and sleep apnea